DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old male, and every day I face judgment, cruel remarks, disapproving stares and other harassment.

The reason? I want to be a tattoo and piercing artist. I currently have one tattoo (which my shirtsleeve covers) and more than 20 piercings. Eight of the piercings are in my face, and most of the others are in my ears. My main ear holes are stretched out to a half-inch.

I can't walk down the street without hearing some comment, or someone stopping and staring, slack-jawed. Even friendly inquiries are becoming irritating. I'm passionate about tattoos and piercings and have been since childhood. I chose my piercings to balance each other and create an art form on my face and ears.

At school I was judged and stereotyped at the beginning of each year and would go out of my way to prove I am a nice, respectable human being with feelings. Now, with a new school term approaching, how can I get people to stop judging me and asking dumb questions like, "How bad did that hurt?" -- FUTURE SKIN ARTIST, PORT HURON, MICH.

DEAR FUTURE SKIN ARTIST: You have chosen to look different, so you shouldn't be surprised at the staring and the questions. The sooner you realize it and learn to answer the questions without being defensive, the better your chances will be of being accepted.

P.S. Perhaps in the future you should consider moving to Los Angeles. In this town everyone has seen almost everything, and people who are different are less shocking.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Daryl" for four years. We're very much in love and usually get along well. The problem is I'm a scheduled-oriented person. I like to plan ahead what we're going to do and what time we're going to do it.

Daryl, on the other hand, hates schedules and sometimes flat-out refuses to commit to something because he "doesn't want to be tied down" to one.

I have tried to be more flexible, and I think Daryl has tried to bend a little for me, too. However, I'm worried that this issue will eventually come between us. I don't want to break up with him over it because I really do love him, and this seems like a petty thing. Please advise. -- CLOCKING IN FROM ILLINOIS

DEAR CLOCKING IN: Your concerns are not petty. I don't know how "loosey-goosey" Daryl is, but men who "refuse to commit" and "don't want to be tied down" are often not only extremely disorganized, but also confirmed bachelors.

You and Daryl have been dating for four years. Please give serious consideration to whether this is the way you want to spend the rest of your life, because your differences will be a constant source of friction.

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DEAR ABBY: Could you please tell me at what age a person can claim to be a senior citizen? Also, at what age is one considered a senior citizen in a restaurant? -- OLD ENOUGH? IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR OLD ENOUGH?: I have known some people in their 20s, already jaded with life, who were "older" than many vibrant people in their 80s who claim to be 80 years "young." Years ago, individuals were considered to be seniors at 65. But then, to the disconcertment of many, AARP began soliciting people at age 50. It seems the age of eligibility for "seniorhood" dropped as they became a financial demographic that attracted marketers.

The specific age to qualify for seniorhood isn't carved in granite -- as you will find in various restaurants and movie theaters. Start asking around and you'll see what I mean.

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Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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